Custom Dress Form

I’ve wanted a dress form for a long, long, long time; but they are so expensive! Finally I found the time to make one myself and here’s how I did it.

Sewing Skill: Advanced (Create Pattern and Assemble Bodice with Zipper)

Materials: Brown Paper, Fabric, Thread, Zipper, Hook and Loop Strip, Ribbon, Cardboard, Polyfill (I used 2 large bags)

Tools: Sewing Machine and Iron

Create a Custom Paper Bodice Sloper

I learned how to make a Bodice Sloper from a tutorial online. There are only a few tutorials I could find for free on the internet and this is by far the best one. It even shows you how to take your body measurements. You could use a Fitted Blouse Pattern you have already, but this sloper will come in handy if you want to start making your own patterns later on.

1. Take your measurements and fill in the chart in this link (MEASUREMENTS ARE TAKEN IN CM!!!):

2. Use your measurements to complete the table in this link and draft your Custom Bodice Sloper:

3. Note that this Bodice Sloper is exact to your measurements and you will have to add seam allowance when cutting out fabric later with them.

Cut and Sew the Dress Form

1. Choose a fabric that does not stretch. A stiffer fabric is best.

2. Place the paper sloper front on the fold of your fabric and place the paper sloper back on the fold too. Cut both front and back outside the edge of the paper to give yourself the desired seam allowance. I used 3/8″ seam allowance.

3. Sew one side seam with right sides together. Sew a zipper into the other side seam.

4. Sew one shoulder seam with right sides together. Sew hook and loop into the other shoulder seam.

(These zipper and hook and loop openings allow you to take the sloper on and off during the fitting process.)

5. Sew the front and back darts. I added side darts so that the sloper fits around my chest perfectly. Try the sloper on and adjust your darts until it completely conforms to all your curves. This is the challenging part and will give you good practice at fitting a garment. (During this fitting process, mark your adjustments to the darts on your paper Bodice Sloper if you intend to use it to create Sewing Patterns later.) The fabric sloper should be very tight.

Create a Base and Close Holes

1. Loosely stuff the dress form with Polyfill (this stuffing is temporary).

2. Cut a strip of fabric to be used to close up the base hole:

a. Measure the width of the base of your dress form and divide this number by 2. This will be the width of the strip of fabric.

b. Measure the distance around the base with a piece of ribbon and cut it to this length. The ribbon will be used as a drawstring later. Remove the Polyfill.

c. Cut a strip of fabric to the width measured in “a” and as long as the ribbon “b”. Finish the two short edges. Create a drawstring pocket in one long edge by folding the edge over twice and sewing close to the fold. Then sew this to the bottom of the dress form by matching raw edges with right-sides together.

3. Follow the steps in number #2 for the arm holes, except finish the long edge instead of creating a drawstring.


4. Fill the dress form up again and cut out a cardboard base roughly the shape of the bottom of the dress form. Insert this inside the dress form and pull the drawstring to seal up the base.


5. To finish the arm holes, gather stitch the finished long edge and tie off.


6. Continue to stuff Polyfill into the dress form until it is firmly stuffed. The Polyfill doesn’t make a perfectly smooth surface, but it will not affect the shape of the clothes you are fitting on the dress form.


(by Jen)


Spruce Up Your Curtains

So my little ones totally destroyed my vertical blinds and I decided a curtain would be a better idea. When I put it up though, I found out the curtain I bought was too short! (Sadie gave a sad pose to sympathize with me in the Before Picture.) This is exactly why I save every piece of fabric I don’t use 🙂  Here’s what I did…


Sewing Skill: Beginner (just straight seams and top-stitching)

Materials: Fabric and Thread

Tools: Sewing Machine and Iron

Lengthening the Hem:

1. Cut a strip of fabric as wide as the extra length you need plus 2″ (I think a thick hem looks best for this), and as long as the curtain is wide plus 1″ seam allowance. Iron a 1/4″ seam along the length of one side.

2. Pin this to the bottom edge of your curtain and top stitch into place.

3. Hang your curtain and mark where you want the new hem to end just above the ground. Fold the raw edge under 1/4″ and press with the iron. Then fold under again where you want the hem to end and press with the iron. Pin and top stitch your hem.

4. To finnish the side edges of your new hem, fold the raw edge under 1/4″ and then again to hide the frays. Top-stitch into place. Here’s my new hem:

Trim the Top of the Curtain

I thought it wasn’t enough to just slap on some random fabric at the bottom. To make the new hem look like it belonged on the curtain, I added a strip of the same fabric just below the curtain rod.

1. Cut a strip of fabric 2  1/2″ wide, and as long as the curtain is wide plus 1″ for seam allowances. Fold under both long raw edges and press with the iron. Pin just below the seam line for the curtain rod pocket and top-stitch into place.


2. To finish the raw edges on the sides, tuck them under 1/4″ and then again to hide the frays. Then top-stitch.

Looking good now!

Make a Sash Tie-Back

1. Cut a strip of fabric 2  1/2″ wide and as long as the curtain is wide. Fold right-sides together and sew 1/4″ seam along the raw edges. be sure to leave the ends open!

2. Turn the sash right-side out, press with the iron, and top-stitch along the seam edge.


(by Jen)

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Removable Chair Covering (inspired by my toddler’s insatiable desire to spill)

Our office chair has really taken a beating. My little guy insists on spilling everything and anything on it! So I finally pulled out some extra fabric I had and made this simple Removable Chair Covering.

If you already know how to sew, this will be a cinch! There are no patterns and not one of the steps has to be done perfectly, because in the end the fabric is gathered into place. You will have a custom chair covering in no time!

Sewing Skill: Beginner

Materials: Fabric, Thread, and Ribbon/Elastic

Tools: Sewing Machine and Iron

Cutting out the Fabric

Start by laying the fabric on the part to be covered, in this case the back support and the seat.

Trim the fabric in the shape of the seat so that there is at least a 4” border of extra fabric all the way around it. At the corners I just gathered it together and made a single cut. Then I trimmed the corners into a smooth curve.

Sewing the Covers

Now it’s ready to be gathered. There are two ways to do this. You can use elastic sewn into place or make a drawstring. The elastic will stretch over the chair as you place the cover on and then recoil for a snug fit (just like the fitted sheet on your bed). The drawstring can be loosened to fit over the chair and then pulled tight and tied in a little bow.

Elastic Option

Measure the elastic out on the underside of the seat itself, placing it right where you want it to be when finished. I used a 3/8” wide elastic because that is what I had handy.

As you can see, this will be much smaller than the actual edge of the fabric you cut. Also notice that the edges of the fabric have been folded under about 3/8”. I pressed the edges with the iron so that I don’t have to use a ton of pins.

Now pin the elastic loosely where it should go around the edge of the fabric.

To sew the elastic to the pressed edge of the fabric, stretch the elastic out to be as long as the fabric edge. I used a zigzag stitch to really secure the elastic in place.

You can see that this gives a nice finished edge and hides the rough cut edge under the elastic. When the elastic recoils from all that stretching it gathers the fabric up. The seat cover is done!

Drawstring Option

Press the edge of your fabric twice. At the curves you can “pleat” the fabric so that it will lay flat and press the pleats with the iron. You will sew this into place near the inner pressed edge, creating a “tunnel” for the ribbon to travel through. Be sure to leave an open spot at the beginning to put the ribbon into later.

Measure the ribbon around the backside of the chair itself. I used a 1/4” wide ribbon, again because it is what was in my scrap box. Leave some extra for tying the bow later. (I forgot to leave extra as you can see in the photo…oops…and had to cut a new longer piece.)

It’s almost done! Insert the ribbon in the hole lef topen and feed the ribbon through the “tunnel”. I put a safety pin on the end of the ribbon so I have something solid to grab as I fit the ribbon through.

Now just lay the cover on the seat back and pull the drawstrings tight. Then finish with a bow.

HOORAY!!! No more scrubbing after every meal, just throw the cover in the washer. I will be makeing several of these covers so I don’t have to do laundry every day 🙂